Sunday, September 28, 2008


It was a dark and stormy day. The kind of day that brings out the brilliance of a New England fall. The kind of day that's just perfect for spending time with your sister and nephews. The perfect kind of day to take advantage of the Museum of Science's "Sundays for Educators," an opportunity to get into all the exhibits, including the Omni Imax Theatre offerings, for free for any teacher and two guests.

As it was such a perfect day, my teacher sister and I spent the afternoon with the two boys there. We've been there many times before, and have seen the exhibits enough times to want to just see the, that's what we did. Mostly. First we saw an amazing account of "John Harlin
III who was just nine years old when his father, the world-famous alpinist John Harlin II, fell to his death while attempting a new route up the North Face of Eiger — the most notorious peak in the Swiss Alps. We watched, breathless, as Harlin approached the mountain that has haunted him for 40 years, journeying in his father's footsteps and revealing the fascinating and inspiring ways in which the Swiss people have learned to live in harmony with such a delicate and dangerous landscape.

The website tells us that the movie "features music by Queen and some of the most spectacular giant-screen imagery yet seen — captured by intrepid helicopter and mountaineering crews — the film celebrates both the unsurpassed beauty of the Alps and the indomitable spirit of the people who live, climb, and explore there. Audiences will ride on the high-altitude Glacier Express train with stops in charming mountain villages, bungee jump off Verzasca Dam à la James Bond, and witness an avalanche triggered by researchers as John Harlin talks to scientists in preparation for his journey into the harsh mountain environment. Finally, the film offers the rare opportunity to experience a triumphant ascent of the Eiger."

That was indeed true. The second film we watched paled by compar- ison, to be honest, although it was interesting in its own right. "Wild Ocean" chronicled the migration of sardines up the coast of Africa. There were spectacular sights of hundreds of dolphins and dive-bombing gannets following the "shoal," and this was about something I'd never heard of before, unlike the Alps movie. If we had seen it first, or alone, I think it would have stood up better.

Following these two movies, my sister and I went to the Butterfly Garden and the boys went to see two 3D movies on sharks and space. The Butterfly Garden was pretty cool with beautiful (although somewhat tattered) butterflies thick in the air and on the flowers. One huge one settled on my arm and latter my sister's shoulder.

We finished the day with pizza at Papa Gino's. It was a dark and stormy and altogether perfect day.

Photos: The view of Boston from the Museum of Science, turning leaves near my house, and butterflies in the Garden

Friday, September 26, 2008

First Impressions

My sister (our art teacher) and I took her art class and my honors English class to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts yesterday specifically to visit the Impressionist galleries of the European wing. This is my favorite gallery in the museum, one I've visited many times, with kids, friends, and on my own. There are many, breath-taking works of art there, and I always enjoy sharing it with students. Here are some of the beautiful pieces we saw:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Great Adventures

I saw this meme on Inland Empire Girl's blog, Gathering Around the Table. I like lists and checking things off of them, so I thought I'd try it. I've done more than half! If you try it yourself, write and send me a link of your post. (Photos are from Google Images, Travelocity, or Expedia. My own photos of these places are not digital and my scanner isn't working right now. Someday...)

Here we present a list. Highlight those tasks that you have accomplished in your life . Then add a new task to the list of something memorable that you've done that isn't on the list yet. (My answers are in dark yellow.)

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone (jacuzzi...)
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s nappy
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten tipsy on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse of both the sun and moon
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states (all but Alaska...)
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had/Have amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving (snorkling)
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted a river
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Gotten flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in a Rocky Horror Picture Show
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Passed out cold
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane (very briefly)
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a TV game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept 30 hours in a 48 hour time frame
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states (almost...35+)
124. Visited all 7 continents (five of seven)
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read “The Iliad”
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions (for many years, but now I work there, so have to go!)
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life
151. Organized a HUGE event!
152. Seen something you can't explain with science
153. Had a book published
154. Drove four hours in a snowstorm

My addition to the list:
155. Performed in Carnegie Hall

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Autumn Equinox

All this from Wikipedia to say that tomorrow is the first day of autumn:

In astronomy, equinox can have two meanings:

  • The moment when the Sun is positioned directly over the Earth's equator, and the apparent position of the Sun at that moment.
  • The time at which the vernal point, celestial equator, and other such elements are taken to be used in the definition of a celestial coordinate system—see Equinox (celestial coordinates).

An equinox in astronomy is the moment in time (not a whole day) when the centre of the Sun can be observed to be directly above the Earth's equator, occurring around March 20 and September 23 each year.

More technically, at an equinox, the Sun is at one of two opposite points on the celestial sphere where the celestial equator (i.e., declination 0) and ecliptic intersect. These points of intersection are called equinoctial points—the vernal point and the autumnal point. By extension, the term equinox may be used to denote an equinoctial point.

There is either an equinox (autumn and spring) or a solstice (summer and winter) on approximately the 21st day of the last month of every quarter of the calendar year. On a day which has an equinox, the centre of the Sun will spend a nearly equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on Earth and night and day will be of nearly the same length. The word equinox derives from the Latin words aequus (equal) and nox (night). In reality, the day is longer than the night at an equinox. Commonly, the day is defined as the period that sunlight reaches the ground in the absence of local obstacles. From Earth, the Sun appears as a disc and not a single point of light; so, when the centre of the Sun is below the horizon, the upper edge is visible. Furthermore, the atmosphere refracts light; so, even when the upper limb of the Sun is below the horizon, its rays reach over the horizon to the ground.

In sunrise/sunset tables, the assumed semidiameter (apparent radius) of the sun is 16 minutes of arc and the atmospheric refraction is assumed to be 34 minutes of arc. Their combination means that when the upper limb of Sun is on the visible horizon its centre is 50 minutes of arc below the geometric horizon, which is the intersection with the celestial sphere of a horizontal plane through the eye of the observer. These effects together make the day about 14 minutes longer than the night at the equator, and longer still at sites toward the poles. The real equality of day and night only happens at places far enough from the equator to have at least a seasonal difference in daylength of 7 minutes, and occurs a few days towards the winter side of each equinox.

Photos: A last rose, flowers at the mini-golf place I took my nephew to today, my niece having a lesson on her horse today.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Beautiful Day

It was a beautiful day today. Just the right kind of temperature and humidity (low). The trees are beginning to turn, the fall flowers are blooming, there's laughter and joy in the air.

This morning I took time to walk around the edges of the school property and take some pictures of the flowers. The grass was freshly cut (yesterday afternoon), and the dew was pretty heavy, so I got grass all over my shoes, but it was worth it.

In the afternoon, I went out and watched the elementary soccer practice. Their first game is tomorrow, so there were lots of pre-game jitters. All the same, they were having a great time.

Me too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Full Moon

According to Wikipedia..."Full Moons are traditionally associated with temporal insomnia, insanity (hence the terms lunacy and lunatic) and various "magical phenomena" such as lycanthropy. Psychologists, however, have found that there is no strong evidence for effects on human behavior around the time of a full moon.[7] They find that studies are generally not consistent, with some showing a positive effect and others showing a negative effect. In one instance, the December 23, 2000 issue of the British Medical Journal published two studies on dog bite admission to hospitals in England and Australia. The study of the Bradford Royal Infirmary found that dog bites were twice as common during a full moon, whereas the study conducted by the public hospitals in Australia found that they were less likely."

According to"The full moon has been linked to crime, suicide, mental illness, disasters, accidents, birthrates, fertility, and werewolves, among other things. Some people even buy and sell stocks according to phases of the moon, a method probably as successful as many others. Numerous studies have tried to find lunar effects. So far, the studies have failed to establish much of interest. Lunar effects that have been found have little or nothing to do with human behavior, e.g., the discovery of a slight effect of the moon on global temperature,* which in turn might have an effect on the growth of plants. Of course, there have been single studies here and there that have found correlations between various phases of the moon and this or that phenomenon, but nothing significant has been replicated sufficiently to warrant claiming a probable causal relationship."

According to"The full moon brings out the crazies in student and teacher behavior. Some would say this is an old wives tale. I say this is fact. Based on 28 years of classroom experience."

This day was going along kind of crazily. I kept saying to our office administrator "what is going on today?" Then she reminded me, "It's a full moon." Enough said.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Crossroads at the Bay

I’ve spent the better part of this week at the annual Adventist Risk Manage- ment Conference in San Francisco. It was my first time at such an event, and it was nothing like what I expected. Actually, I’m not sure what I expected. Perhaps more than anything, I thought I’d be sitting through long, boring-but-necessary seminars on insurance, economics, and other boring (to me)-but-necessary issues. And (I must be honest), that did happen part of the time. But the experiences I've already described plus yesterday's sessions redeemed the conference for me.

The last day of the Conference was devoted to issues of health and diversity. The sessions were outstanding. They started with Gwen Foster, former health and fitness czar for the city of Philadelphia and Charles Mills, editor of Vibrant Life magazine. Both were interesting, articulate, and challenging. I also attended a seminar on how to establish a wellness program “at your organization.” All three sessions provided food for thought and motivation to get out of my chair and move more.

It was the last session, though, the very last words of the conference, that I am having a hard time shaking. One of the leading motivational speakers in America, Samuel Betances is a diversity trainer and consultant who challenged us to use our diversity to create unity. “When people of different races have reason to work closely on projects where both are indispensible,” he said, “race will not be an issue. . . . When we unite together to pursue a common goal, prejudice disappears.”

He talked about the importance of words, and of reading widely. “Read to expand your horizon, to build your vocabulary, to increase your critical and abstract thinking abilities. Read to be universalized,” he said. He talked about reading the “literature of resiliency,” books about people who “had it tougher than you, people who experienced breakthroughs.” He said we “need words in order to grow” and that the words we read should be those that will change our lives.

He told the story of his own life; how he grew up poor, neglected, and abused; how he dropped out of high school; how he flunked out of military school; how his work supervisor at a hospital, a Christian woman, told him he needed words to get beyond his life situation and how Christian education would give him those words and teach him how to use them. “In academy,” he said, “they are always looking to see if you have gifts the Lord can use.” Certainly the Lord has used him as he graduated with high honors from Harvard, worked with Oprah, and has been a consultant to three US presidents.

Yes, there were moments that I wondered why I was clear across the country from my “real work,” but there were many more that I realized the importance of taking a step back and putting that “real work” into perspective. Exploring my spiritual roots, recognizing my need to be a healthier person physically so I can give with more energy and clarity and generosity and responsibility...that was definitely worth the trip.

Photos: The watercolor painting I won yesterday (!), Gwen Foster, Samuel Betances, details of the floral display in the hotel lobby.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Coming to America

The San Mateo County Courthouse had several exhibits displayed throughout the two stories that were open to us last night. One was about famous entrepreneurs from the county, another was about famous athletes from the county (Olympian Debbie Thomas, NFL player Lynn Swann among others), and one on the immigrants who came to the county. I found this one the most colorful (literally and figuratively) as well as the most interesting.

The major nation- alities immi- grating into the San Mateo County are Chinese, Japanese, and Irish. The pictures here show some of the cultural aspects of these nationalities.

Night Court

Last night, we went to the San Mateo County Courthouse for an evening of mock trials. After spending the day listening to all kinds of legal situations and issues, it was fun to see some of the things we heard put into practice. Literally.

The courthouse itself is beautiful. Built in 1908 it has survived many a shake up (again, literally). It's dome with beautiful stained glass is particularly striking, inside and out, especially after it got dark.

The trial I attended (there were four to choose from) was presided over by a feisty county judge from Florida (Tallahasee) who had given an outstanding presentation earlier in the day. She sees a lot of young people in her courtroom and helped institute a drug court that gets young people into rehab rather than jail as first-time offenders. Her mercy and grace approach to her work was inspiring.

The evening's situation involved a youth pastor who misused his time with a 17 year old youth group member. The lawyers were actual lawyers in their real life, but the rest of the participants were playing roles unfamiliar to them (clerk, jurors, plaintiffs, defendants, etc.).

It was an interesting and, at times, amusing evening. A couple of times the situation caused the judge to break up (a la Carson in his skits), which, in turn, cause laughter and/or applause in the audience. The actual case, of course, was not laughable though, and we learned a lot despite the occasional levity.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Art in the Courtyard

Sunday night's dinner was served in the hotel courtyard after Eleanor Clift's keynote. It was a little brisk, but otherwise, it was a lovely evening.

The food was delicious, and there were dozen photographs,s of paintings, sculptures, and pieces of pottery on display for us to enjoy as we strolled through the (somewhat crowded) courtyard.

I particularly loved the Native American pottery crafted by teenagers from an Indian school in Arizona. I wanted to purchase a piece, but thought I'd get it later when it wasn't so crowded. Turns out I missed my chance. I'll have to go to the website now, although everyone got a lovely small vase or bowl as a welcome gift courtesy of our hosts. All the guest speakers of the conference got larger pieces. What a great gift idea, don't you think?

Monday, September 08, 2008


A year and a half ago, I was in Corpus Christi for some marketing meetings and a former principal sought me out and asked forgiveness for a situation years ago. It felt good to let go of the hurt that had accumulated for many years. Today, a similar thing happened. I'll spare you the details, but this was a much more satisfying and meaningful reconnection with a former dear friend. I need to go to more of these meetings =)

Photos are of flowers in and around the hotel.